For decades parents have relied on kids cold and cough preparations to ease their child’s discomfort. However, the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA), Australia’s regulatory body of therapeutic goods, now say that children’s cough and cold medicines should not be given to children under the age of 6 years.


These changes come as a result of a review carried out by the TGA over the safety and efficacy of registered over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for children aged 2-12 years. As a result of this review, the TGA has concluded that while there are no immediate safety risks with cough and cold medicines, they may potentially cause harm to children while the benefits of using them have not been proven.


On this basis:


* Children under 6 should not be given medicines to treat cough and cold symptoms.

* Children aged 6-11 should only be given medicines to treat cough and cold symptoms on the advice of a doctor, pharmacist or nurse practitioner.


The potential harm the TGA refers to as the rationale behind the changes included that a child may appear to have a cold when in fact may be suffering from a more serious illness, such as influenza, asthma, pneumonia or another infection that requires prompt medical attention.  Further overdose of these medicines can lead to serious harm. Parents may use two different brands of medicine at the same not realising that they contain the same ingredients, or may incorrectly measure a dose if they get up in the middle of the night to soothe a child.


The limited benefits that the TGA has argued is that cough and cold medicines only offer temporary relief of common symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, nasal congestion and fever. They do not affect the duration of the viral infection or reduce the severity of the infection.


So what can parents use to ease the discomfort of children under 6 years of age from their cough and cold pains? There are a number of homeopathic remedies that are available to children under two years of age. Ivy Leaf Extract, which is found in Blackmores Cough Combat, can be used to clear congestion and ease a cough. Other products for a cough and cold include Blackmores Kaloba and combination products such as Ease-a-Cold Cold and Flu Relief Liquid and Nature’s Way Kids Smart Natural Medicine Cold and Flu. A humidifier or vaporiser (Euky Bear Vapouriser, Vicks Warm Steam Vaporizer) can also be used in your child’s room to add moisture to dry air.


However, what parents must not forget is to seek medical as needed. If your child takes other prescription or over-the counter medications always check with a doctor or pharmacist before giving any cough and cold preparations. Always follow instructions for dosing on the box and if your child’s symptoms worsen or don’t improve in a few days take them to the doctor.